THE SORRIES are Douglas Kay (vocals, guitar, bodhran, mandolin) and Martin Philip (vocals, guitar, bodhran, tres). The duo sing, play and banter their way through a show which features a host of traditional tunes from the much-loved Scottish songbook, as well as some songs gathered from the oral tradition and a few original compositions.
The two formed The Sorries following a conversation during a tour of the Highlands where both Martin and Douglas were performing as part of separate projects. Coming from very different musical backgrounds, Kay and Philip discovered a shared love for the music of The Corries. Over a bottle of whisky they decided that the duo is still an ideal format in which to present so many of the sensational folk songs in which Scotland is so rich.
The Sorries made their live debut in Edinburgh during December 2006 and during the next three years moved from the pubs of Edinburgh to playing sell-out shows in locations as diverse as Lossiemouth’s Warehouse Theatre, Coldingham Village Hall, Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree and the Isle of Eigg Community Hall. 2009 saw the duo complete a successful three week run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, during which they played to packed audiences and garnered attention from the national press. That first Fringe run was the start of an annual engagement which has continued ever since; it also saw the release of their eponymous debut album.
2010 saw the release of the lads’ second album, Land of the Leal, where the duo developed their sound with the inclusion of mandolin on a number of tracks. The regular gigging schedule continued throughout 2010-11, with a number of special events and public concerts, including performances at the press launch for The Dunhill Cup, for Edinburgh Rugby at Murrayfield Stadium and at the House Music Festival in MacGregor’s Barn, Kinlochard.
In the spring of 2012 The Sorries began work on their third album, Auld Lang Syne, which was released to coincide with the fourth consecutive run of shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Around this time the lads began taking their music into schools to play short gigs for the pupils and explain a little about where the songs come from and how the folk tradition has been perpetuated through history. This is part of an ongoing activity, with the response from both pupils and teachers extremely positive. With a growing interest in the history and traditions of these songs, The Sorries have also recently begun a series of podcasts – The Scottish Song Guide – where they discuss the meanings and history of both words and music from some of the most famous pieces in their repertoire, interspersed with snippets from the songs themselves.
In 2017 The Sorries ventured south of The Border to play a three-date run at the Brighton Fringe. The notion that there was an appetite for traditional Scottish music outwith Scotland was confirmed by the reaction of those who saw them play on England’s south coast, with audience members expressing huge enthusiasm for the music and a real interest in the background to the songs.
The Sorries’ fourth album, Live at the Fringe, captured some of the energy and excitement of the duo’s live shows and offered audiences an alternative style of Sorries album before they returned to a studio setting for Bends of the Bow.
Edinburgh Fringe audiences continued to increase and August 2019 saw The Sorries complete their most successful Fringe run to date, playing to well in excess of a thousand people from all parts of the globe. Publications which have featured enthusiastic reviews and commentary on the duo’s shows range from Three Weeks and Edinburgh Spotlight, through to The Herald and The Financial Times. Their lively audiences in August have included Bill Hill (who wrote songs such as The Portree Kid) and original members of The Corries, Ronnie Browne and Bill Smith. Ronnie was later kind enough to give The Sorries a very positive plug at the Book Festival launch of his autobiography That Guy Fae The Corries.
2019 has arguably been the duo’s busiest year to date with the release of a new album – Chevalier’s Muster Roll – and a packed schedule of concerts which has included a tour in conjunction with North East Arts Touring, a show at Dunfermline’s famous Carnegie Hall and a trip to Moscow to headline the Russian capital’s САМАЙН (Samhain) Festival. The reaction to the two concerts played in Moscow was hugely positive and revealed many Muscovites’ deep affinity for Scotland and Scottish music.
The Sorries will bring in 2020 with a performance at Sir Andy Murray’s Cromlix Hotel and the early months of the new year will see the lads continue their busy programme with gigs in Aberdour, Glasgow, Edinburgh and St. Andrews.
“Deliciously infectious…this show is riotous fun that affirms just how alive Scottish folk music is.” ***** Three Weeks
“Authentic, lively and hugely, hugely enjoyable.” ***** Broadway Baby
“A must for lovers of Scots songs.” **** Edinburgh Spotlight
“Songs both rousing and reflective… entertainingly true to a noble, public-figure-swatting tradition.” The Herald
Selection of venues played:
Byre Theatre, St Andrews
Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
САМАЙН Festival, Moscow, Russia
Lantern Theatre, Brighton
Warehouse Theatre, Lossiemouth
Coldingham Village Hall
Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
Thomas Paine Chapel, Lewes, East Sussex
Isle of Eigg Community Hall
Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Wauchope Hall, Town Yetholm
St Stephen’s Stockbridge, Edinburgh
Cromlix Hotel, by Dunblane
Duke’s Course, St Andrews
Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh
Dalgety Bay Folk Club, Fife